Accept troop deployment, AU tells Burundi Pres. Nkurunziza

A truck dumping dead bodies in a mass grave in Burundi.

A truck dumping dead bodies in a mass grave in Burundi.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma  has reportedly written to President Pierre Nkurunziza urging to accept the proposed deployment of peacekeeping troops to the Central African nation.

Ms. Zuma has reassured the embattled leader that the peacekeepers would be in Burundi to solely protect civilians.

The African Union disclosed in a statement that in her correspondence with Burundi’s leader, the AU chairperson “expressed the AU’s readiness to rapidly initiate discussions with the government of Burundi to devise the best ways and means of facilitating the deployment of the mission, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.”

The statement added that Ms. Dlamini Zuma had unequivocally told Nkurunziza that  “the AU has no other agenda than to assist the government and people of Burundi at their hour of need, consistent with its commitment to promote African solutions to African problems.”

This comes as the Burundian government has strongly rejected African Union proposed initiative to deploy 5000 peacekeeping troops to the conflict-blighted nation charging foreign troops would come with “ulterior motives.”

The authorities in Bujumbura have also warned AU not to dare send “invasion forces” to Burundi without their consent lest the government and security forces “respond accordingly.”

“Burundi is clear on the matter: it is not ready to accept an AU force on its territory,” President Pierre Nkurunziza’s deputy spokesman Jean Claude Karerwa told AFP last weekend.

Mr. Karera stressed “If AU troops came without the government’s approval, it would be an invasion and occupation force, and the Burundi government would reserve the right to act accordingly.”

Various Burundi government and security officials have come out and threatened the government in Bujumbura will not cooperate with the African Union as regards the deployment of peacekeepers in Burundi.

Burundi lawmakers have also appealed to their counterparts in other African countries not to endorse the AU plan.

“For any country that would announce to contribute those troops, we as members of parliament, are ready to ask their parliaments whether they will have authorized their armies to invade Burundi,” Burundi’s President of the Senate Reverien Ndikuriyo was quoted as saying this week.

Last weekend, the United Nations Security Council had given Bujumbura four days to embrace AU agreement.

Meanwhile, President Paul Kagame of neighbouring Rwanda said this week his country will not be contributing troops to the African Union proposed peacekeeping mission, appealing to Burundians to “sort out their problems.”

“Even with the proposed (AU) military contingent sent to Burundi, Rwanda will not be part of that. We have troops absolutely which can be deployed in many parts of the world for peacekeeping, but we are not going to be part of that,” President Kagame said Tuesday.

Talks aimed at ending the current crisis in Burundi are due to reopen in the Ugandan Capital, Kampala, Monday December 28, under mediation of President Yoweri Museveni, who was appointed by the East African Heads of State Summit in July to facilitate the failed dialogue.

After months of intransigence on all sides, the government, opposition and all players in the devastating conflict have agreed to resume talking in bid to resolve their differences.